Another Australian native.Leptospermum laevigatum or Coastal tea-tree

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Hi all,

here is another Ozzie native you may never seen or heard of. It does flower as a tree but as a bonsai we are most likely to cut off the portions that flower for shaping purposes.

Leptospermum laevigatum or Coastal tea-tree. It can be easily grown from seed or cutting and responds well to pruning and trimming although it will not bud back on old wood.

This tree is about 20 years old and always grown in a pot; nursery then bonsai.

It has live veins like junipers and thickens/muscles up along these live veins give an interesting twisting and knotting effect.

I like them very much.

Grant
 

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PeterW

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I have a Leptospermum that I collected a few years back from my front yard, a petersonii I believe. Certainly looks different to yours Grant, they seem to differ greatly between the Leptospermum species.
What is the size of this tree Grant?
 
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The tree stands about 65cm (26 ins) from the bottom of the pot and the pot is about 37cms (15 ins) accross.It is a new Pat Pennedy pot.

As to variation in Leptospermum this one lives from Tasmania to Adelaide and up the coast many thousands of kilometres past Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and does vary within its species. Some literature says it has been planted in California for dune stabilization and is known as the Australian Tea tree

Grant
 

Attila Soos

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Another gorgeous tree, Grant.

Here in California we are more familiar with Leptospermum scoparium (New Zealand Tea tree), which is a shrub that takes forever to get to a decent trunk size.

I've heard some concerns that the above species is very sensitive to dry soil, and if one misses a watering, there is a great risk of losing the tree. Not sure that it is true or not. Anyway, is your Leptospermum laevigatum very similar to the scoparium that I am talking about?
 
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Hi,

The New Zealand Tea Tree is a more difficult plant to grow than the Coastal tea tree. The Australian expert still loses about 5% of that tree every year but it does flower nicely.

On the other hand with the Coastal tea tree, once it is in a pot it is virtually bullet proof as the root system is strong and efficient. I repotted this one on the hottest day of the year about two years ago as an experiment and as you can see it is fine.

Grant
 

Attila Soos

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Thanks Grant for introducing us to these wonderful Australian plants. I am starting to pay more attention to them since I've read your posts.

P.S.: I just ordered two large nursery specimens (Coastal Tea) from one of my favorite nurseries here in the Los Angeles area (San Gabriel Nurseries), so that I can start working with them in a week.

Question: do they easily back-bud, when I cut them back hard? Since they are nursery trees, I will have to do some major chopping on them.
 
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Hi,

As I stated above they do not bud back on old wood in my experience; however I have not tried to do a large chop or collect from the wild. I have seen a numberf of trees collected from the wild and they have survived very well but I dont recall any back budding. I will check on our local website; Ausbonsai.

A couple of myths about Oz native trees.
1. They don't like/need fertilizer. RUBBISH.
2. They don't like to have their roots touched. RUBBISH
3. You should never cut off the tap root. RUBBISH.
4. They don't need much water. RUBBISH.
5. They need lots of water. RUBBISH.

Once you get the hang of growing Oz native trees they can in fact be a lot easier and less technical than many, to us, exotics.

Grant
 
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Is it the phosphorus that is the problem with these australasian trees?

Alledgedly and there are Oz native fertilizer mixes but I have been using normal slow release fertilizers (Osmocote) and normal liquid fertilizers with good results on all the Oz native plants you are likely to encounter.
Australia is a very old continent and all the soils are a bit depleted and so the trees have adapted to grow in these poor soils.
I am however careful using Bloom Boosting type fertilizers for flowering natives because of the high phosphorus levels, but they seem to flower well anyhow.

Grant
 

PeterW

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As I stated above they do not bud back on old wood in my experience; however I have not tried to do a large chop or collect from the wild. I have seen a number of trees collected from the wild and they have survived very well but I don't recall any back budding.

This species is much different to the petersonii in that respect Grant, the petersonii shoots back on old wood profusely.
 
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I tried Bottlebrush with something similar in mind but they succumbed during the winter.

It's nice to see.

Our one did get slightly frost damaged at minus 9 degrees celcius (16 Farenheit) but survived OK. They like plenty of sun.

Grant
 

Attila Soos

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Hi,

As I stated above they do not bud back on old wood in my experience; however I have not tried to do a large chop or collect from the wild. I have seen a numberf of trees collected from the wild and they have survived very well but I dont recall any back budding. I will check on our local website; Ausbonsai.

Good to know. It will be an interesting project. I can easily test these things by chopping back a thick branch that I don't need, and see what happens.

One of my favorite Ozzie subject right now is a Melaleuca incana. It is a chuhin size, and whenever I make a chop, a dozen little buds pop out right away, all over the place. It's a fun tree to work with. It has a pendulous habit, and that's what I am trying to replicate in bonsai, but it is a little tricky, due to the small size of the tree.
 
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Hi Attila, Melaleuca and Leptospermum are often confused with each other. One is the Tea Tree and one is the Paper bark. The Paper bark (Meleuca) usually buds back easilly whereas the Tea tree(Leptospermum ) is a lot more erratic when it comes to budding back after a hard chop. On our website one person says no to chop back of L. laevigatum whereas another says yes it buds back.
If you do try a hard cut back on just one branch it is likely to die. Try a hard prune all over and a total chop on just the one branch and see what happens.
Also you should only attempt this when it starts to get warm; say May in the northern hemisphere, and make sure the tree is in good health.
Grant
 

Attila Soos

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If you do try a hard cut back on just one branch it is likely to die. Try a hard prune all over and a total chop on just the one branch and see what happens.
Also you should only attempt this when it starts to get warm; say May in the northern hemisphere, and make sure the tree is in good health.
Grant

I see what you mean. If only one branch is chopped, the tree is likely to drop it, because its reluctance to back-bud, combined with the fact that there are plenty other green parts on the tree. So, that wouldn't be a strong enough incentive to force the tree to back bud.

But an overall hard prune, and some trunk chops may force the tree to do it, in order to survive. I remember doing the same thing on a few other species, where I could not get the branch to push new growth close to the trunk until I hard-pruned the whole tree.

As to Melaleuca, I just mentioned it as an example of a species that easily back-buds - thre is no confusion with Leptospermum, a totally different animal.

Warm temperatures and strong health is a must, and I also have a greenhouse - that will also help the recovery. I agree that next May will be a good time, since that's when the temperatures in So. Cal. get comfortably warm.
 
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Perfect. You have understood. However most Oz trees do like full sun where possible and I am careful about glass hosing anything except for short term gain.

Grant
 

Attila Soos

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Perfect. You have understood. However most Oz trees do like full sun where possible and I am careful about glass hosing anything except for short term gain.

Grant

Yeah, I thought about that too. Our California juniper is a good example of how to use a glass house. It's only a temporary measure, to carry the tree through a shock. Otherwise, they would die if kept in a greenhouse for a long time.
 

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